Established as a luxury real estate venture in 2000, the Greenbrier Sporting Club lies within the 6,500-acre Greenbrier property in White Sulphur Springs. As its name suggests, residents and members enjoy a number of outdoor pursuits here but golf – in the shape of the private, 18-hole Snead course – is the main sporting activity for many with golfers also having access to the three championship layouts at the Greenbrier Resort.
It’s only fitting that Sam Snead, a golfer who had such a long association with The Greenbrier, should have the 18-hole, par 71 Sporting Club course named in his honour. As his son Jack says, “The course is a fitting tribute to my dad in a place he loved very much and where he truly took his place as golf's ambassador. It ensures that his spirit will live on among many generations of golfers to come.”
What many may not know is the valley in which the course is laid out was used as a prisoner of war camp during World War II. Its airstrip was in constant use until a bigger airport was built nearby to service the Cold War Bunker that was constructed underneath the West Virginia Wing of the hotel in the early 1960s.
The opening five holes are laid out on the flat, main area of the valley, holes 6 to 8 lie across a main road up into the hills, then the 9th returns the routing back to the level again. Holes 10-13 remain on this part of the property and they are followed by elevation changes up then down from the 14th to 16th before the closing two holes return to the clubhouse.
The long par three 3rd measures 256 yards from the back tees – with water to carry most of the way – and this hole is an intimidating prospect so early in the round. The 389-yard, par four 7th is the most aesthetically pleasing on the front nine with a 200-yard carry to a plateau fairway that leads to a wildly contoured green.
The closing sequence of holes on the back nine, commencing with the 14th, is very good indeed and it’s highlighted by the tee position on the par five 16th where the shot drops almost 100 feet to the landing area below – exhilarating golf at its very best.The Snead fairways have a neat little feature that’s unique to the course. Instead of a plain 150-yard marker pole found on many layouts, you’ll find a post with a bronze panama hat on top – the signature symbol of “Slammin’ Sam” and a very nice little touch.